Manchester United advanced with ease through the group stages of the Champions League, thanks to a 5-0 win at Bayer Leverkusen.
A tight opening period was perhaps slightly more controlled by United, though neither team created too many clear chances on goal.
Stefan Kiessling and Wayne Rooney had briefly threatened at opposite ends of the pitch before the opening goal arrived midway through the half.
Goal, Man United! Valencia puts United ahead on the counterattack after a great ball from Rooney. #UCLonFOX— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 27, 2013
Shinji Kagawa won the ball in midfield and released Rooney, who saw his cross tapped home at the far post by Antonio Valencia.
United didn't have long to wait to double their lead as they saw Emir Spahic divert Rooney's free kick into his own net for 2-0.
Both those goals came just after Jonny Evans had made a vital block inside the area from Kiessling.
The second half was relatively sedate in terms of the pace of the game, with Leverkusen seemingly resigned to defeat and United happy to hit on the counter when possible.
Nani flashed an effort across the face of goal and Stefan Reinartz hit the post around the hour mark after a corner kick before Evans tapped home from close range after Leverkusen didn't clear a United corner.
Bayer Leverkusen vs Manchester United: Bayer Leverkusen have won none of their 5 CL meetings with Manchester United http://t.co/UvIx3768i2— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) November 27, 2013
A beautiful chipped pass from Kagawa set Rooney through the defence late on, and he clipped the ball over Bernd Leno for Chris Smalling to tap home the fourth.
There were few scares thereafter for United, and they saw out the game in comfort, with Nani adding a fifth late on after a great pass from Ryan Giggs.
United boss David Moyes believes it was his side's best performance of the season, as per BBC Sport:
It's the best we've played in my time here and there's more to come. To score five goals, we haven't done that, and to do it away is special. I hope I can continue the standards United have set before and the team's performance tonight has shown that. It's what I expected, qualifying for the Champions League and doing well in the league and the cups, and I will try to keep that going.
Spoke 2 Sami Hyypia after the game. Big learning experience for him in 1st CL season. Still a real gent - did 6 interviews for various media— Matt Critchley (@MattCritchley1) November 27, 2013
Key Player Grades
Shinji Kagawa: B
An impressive first half saw Kagawa create plenty of openings for his team from his preferred central-attacking midfield role. His link-up play was good, as was his movement, and he was quick to turn and break into space when receiving the ball, as he showed for the opening goal. He was quiet after the break, but he was still an effective performer and involved in the fourth goal.
Wayne Rooney: A
Leading the attack on his own, Rooney was an excellent performer as usual, combining good technique and vision with clever movement, on and off the ball. His deliveries led to the two goals in the first half, and he had the initial chance before Evans touched home the third before setting up Smalling for the fourth. Only missed a goal of his own.
Lars Bender: B
Leverkusen's best midfield option simply couldn't affect the flow of play often enough against the likes of Ryan Giggs. He was energetic and good on the ball but alone in trying to dominate play. He was subbed late in the game at 4-0.
|Bayer Leverkusen Player Grades|
|Manchester United Player Grades|
With one match remaining in the group stage, United have sealed qualification through to the knockout stages. Leverkusen can still qualify, but Shakhtar's win over Real Sociedad means they'll have to do better than the Ukrainian side in the final match-day.
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